Exciting Does Not Mean Better to God
“I wish I had a better testimony!” Have you thought this? You may be listening to a speaker recall how they came to faith in Jesus Christ and it is something dramatic. They were dealing drugs or living life as a heavy metal star when Jesus caused them to follow Him through His divine intervention. It is just wonderful and exciting. You are hanging on every word. If it is really good, stray thoughts start interrupting those of a more godly variety. “Man, my testimony stinks, I wish I was running guns on mules to South American Communist revolutionaries when Jesus called me. I wish I had been a Sikh mercenary or a Barbary pirate or something, why am I such a failure. I am such a loser.” Ok, I made up that last part, but the temptation is there. You may look at your lifelong relationship as somehow less meaningful than the lost sheep who God brings home in grand fashion. This is not God’s heart though. Though heaven rejoices over the lost sheep returning, it is lifelong faith in Christ that God seeks for us. It is what Jesus Himself models, after all.
When I ask people who have been raised in the church how they were saved, their almost defeated response bears out the same sentiment. Shoulders dipped, voice apologetic, “Well, I don’t really have a testimony, I have been going to church since I was a kid and I have always believed. I am really boring.” This is not true, but in a way it is understandable. Those great stories of God are thrilling to hear and God works in awesome ways. God is worthy of praise for saving these lost souls. These stories get an audience’s attention as well. I love to hear them.
A Father’s Heart for His Kids
But as a person who came to Jesus in my 30’s and now as a Dad, those dramatic histories are the last thing I want for my kids. I pray for my them to have the most simple “boring” testimony ever. I want them to walk with Jesus in a way that is so without the drama that it makes the plot twists of watching paint drying or grass growing exciting in comparison. That would mean that I have done my job and lead them to Jesus’ feet from a young age and they haven’t left Him – exactly where Jesus wants them. Life in Jesus is an adventure on its own. It is fighting a battle with dark forces whose power you can never comprehend. Your citizenship is in heaven while on earth. There is no need for self-inflicted mayhem, life takes care of that already.
The Prodigal Son Did Not Need to Leave the Father
I love Jesus telling the story of the Prodigal Son. I identify so much with the ways of the younger brother. The parable tells us so much about God and His love for His children. Jesus depicts God running out to meet us and welcome us home after we have wasted years and sinned greatly – how amazing is that? I wasn’t raised in the church but I am so grateful that this opportunity to return to a welcoming father is there. Jesus is telling us about God’s heart for the lost and the rebellious. Come to me no matter where you are, He is calling to us. This is wonderful and I praise God every day for His mercy
But don’t overlook the could have been in the story. The Prodigal could have simply stayed with Dad and it would have been so much better for him. So much pain, loss, sin, and rebellion could have simply been avoided had the son stayed where he was meant to be, by his father’s side. It would have been so much easier had the Prodigal grown up loving his father, doting on his dad, sitting at his knee and taking in every word. It would have been a picture of a perfect relationship. He had the opportunity to stay with the father and love every moment. He was a good father. Who doesn’t love a good father? There was so much to be enjoyed. Not as dramatic of a story but it would have been better.
God Intends the Best and Forgives Our Worst
This is what God intends for us. He wants a simple awesome relationship rather than the drama. Christianity does not actually require pain and suffering. We can stay contently with the Father. It is sin that brings the temptation, conflict, and pain it into the picture on a regular basis.
When the younger brother goes off and follows his passions, the passage covers his fall and return so quickly we may miss what brings him around. Pain, struggle, loss, want, discontent, filth, and more pain, this is life without a relationship with the father. My life before Jesus was filled with pain and sorrow. It was a terrible lost wasted life…until I came in repentance to the Father and He ran out to meet me and we had a feast. God accepted me after I had gone way off track. I had to go through the bad things so that I was broken down enough to accept my need for a Savior but that does not mean others do. It is way simpler to just skip over the bad and stay with the One who loves you perfectly. There is no better place to be than with the Father. There is no shame in staying in the best position.
If you are blessed enough to skip the prodigal period of life and just walked faithfully with Jesus, this is truly the most exciting testimony of all eternity. It is the testimony of Jesus and He is our example in everything. He was tempted in every way but did not sin. He always did the will of the Father, even to the Cross. Don’t regret it, it is the heart of our Heavenly Father for us.
This type of testimony may never make it on a stage, but a sheep who has always followed the shepherd is the ultimate any father can wish for his children. Just continue to follow the Lord, don’t turn to the left or the right, nothing for the Lord to rebuild or restore…be a man after God’s own heart.
Jesus loves you for it.
What an exciting testimony!